Somaliland has accused “allied” forces led by Puntland of attacking its troops in East Las Anod at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. The Somaliland government said that it was in a defensive position at the time of the alleged attack and that it had “kept the truce declared by our administration.” Prior to this last conflict, there had been little violence for about two weeks.
In contrast, the propaganda office of Khaatumo State said that Somaliland forces had begun a “heavy onslaught on the outskirts of Lasanod” and that “Khaatumo soldiers stationed in the city are defending the city from the secessionist Somaliland forces.” The Somaliland invasion, according to SSC forces, occurred in the Maraaga area, and “local resistance fighters resisted the attack.”
The battle comes only days after a local committee of 33 Dhulbahante clan elders said that they would only agree to a truce and enter into direct discussions with the Somaliland government if its forces were withdrawn from the Oog region.
The fight between Somaliland forces and the SSC militias in and around Las Anod in the eastern Sool area of Somalia has resulted in over 200 deaths and the displacement of nearly 200,000 people since it began in December 2022.
The December death of Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi), the chairman of Somaliland’s opposition party, Wadani, and the early January assassination of a local businessman, Mohamed Ali Saadle, ignited the war. Protests against the Somaliland administration erupted, as did increased combat between the Somaliland military and SSC militia. Hargeisa’s forces used force to quell the protests before withdrawing from Las Anod in the face of rising domestic and international pressure. Somaliland’s officials tried to defuse tensions by commissioning a probe, while Puntland called the protest killings a slaughter.
Local officials, clan elders, and noteworthy figures assembled in Las Anod on February 5 to discuss a resolution to the crisis. They published a 13-point declaration in which they reestablished SSC-Khatumo region rule, rejected Somaliland as a separatist state, and reaffirmed their commitment to being a part of federal Somalia. The proclamation led to violent fights, with both sides pointing the finger at one another as the aggressor.
Due to fears about potential escalation, international condemnation of the conflict in the area has resulted in mediation efforts by Ethiopia and appeals for humanitarian help.